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Cambodia: HRW reports that authorities arrest 17 people related to spreading fake news on the Covid-19 & urges authorities to guarantee freedom of expression for Cambodians

Author: Human Rights Watch, Published on: 24 March 2020

"Cambodia: COVID-19 Clampdown on Free Speech", 24 March 2020

Cambodian authorities should stop arresting people for expressing concerns about COVID-19’s impact in Cambodia and claiming they are spreading so-called “fake news,” Human Rights Watch said…

Human Rights Watch has documented the arrests of 17 people … for sharing information about the coronavirus in Cambodia… Twelve were released from detention after signing pledges to not spread “fake news” in the future and to apologize.

“The Cambodian government is misusing the COVID-19 outbreak to lock up opposition activists and others expressing concern about the virus and the government’s response,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The government should stop abusing people’s free speech rights and instead focus on providing the public with accurate and timely information about COVID-19.”…

In a … speech, Hun Sen directly threatened to arrest Long Phary,... Phnom Penh police arrested him … and told him the arrest stemmed from a phone conversation in which Long Phary discussed rumors about the spread of the coronavirus in the country. The government did not say how it learned about the contents of a private phone call, but in the past, the government has engaged in unauthorized phone tapping of civil society activists…

Under international human rights law, the Cambodian government has an obligation to protect the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive, and impart information of all kinds. Governments are responsible for providing information necessary for protecting and promoting rights, including the right to health...

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